I’m letting go of a large part of my identity — something that was crucial to my development as a person and as a writer: my last name. To be more precise, I’m letting go of my husband’s last name.
From now on, it’s Anita Tedaldi.
It makes me sad to have to change my name, but my husband isn’t comfortable with my writing, and for as much as I wish it were different, it is what it is. And so despite the fact that I am married to George Clooney — that’s what I’m calling him now to protect his identity — who is used to lots of attention, I have to oblige.
This isn’t a resolution, but something that has increasingly become an issue. A few years ago, before I started writing my column or my blog, I never thought using my married name could become an issue. I was worried about trying to get my work into any newspaper that would take it, I certainly didn’t think too much about content or the fact that my husband, being a private person, would find my writing too personal.
I understand his point, and I think he would feel the same way even if he weren’t in the military. My husband is a kind man, but he would rather be dead than disclose something personal. And being married to me make this very difficult because I am open in person and in my writing.
I’ve tried to give him nicknames, change details about our lives, but it just doesn’t cut it — you can’t write without being personal.
So I have two options: tone down my writing and focus on generic issues and not-so-colorful opinions, or use my Italian name.
I opted for the second.
After a crazy amount of work, I got a book deal and two pieces coming out in the New York Times, and this is the only time to start using my Italian name if I’m ever going to do it. Using my husband’s name forces me to work with much tighter constraints.
The military makes it harder to write freely but for good reasons. It would be dangerous to reveal details about service members’ movements and whereabouts or even their work details. And maybe it’s the same in many professions. So navigating that can be tricky. Add my husband’s obsession with privacy and it’s virtually impossible to write a column about family life.
The more I think about it, the more I feel like I’m letting go of a big part of me. I love my husband’s last name. It always made me feel like I belonged to him. More importantly it’s easier to spell than my Italian one. Hey, when we got married I changed all of my documents to my married name — credit cards, driver’s license, gym memberships, library cards, even my local grocery co-op card. I insisted they give me a new one no matter how long it would take.
My married last name is also linked to my American identity. I became a citizen after marrying my husband so in a way it’s my American self I am letting go of on paper.
In my personal life, I’ll continue to use my husband’s last name, but in my professional life it’ll be Anita Tedaldi.
I know George will be very happy about not having random people asking him about his family life.
Anita Tedaldi is a freelance writer, mother of five and wife of an Air Force pilot. Contact her at: